Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Tax Amendments Bring Inspired Debate / in Senate

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Tax Amendments Bring Inspired Debate / in Senate

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON - ""Yesterday I said this was like watching grass grow,'' complained Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, R-Kan. ""To day I think it is like watching paint dry. Tomorrow, I will have something else ...''

It was tax time on the Senate floor and Dole found the debate all too taxing. As it went on, day after day, it produced a torrent of words.

At times the words appeared a bit overheated, the images a bit tortured, ifcluding these from Sen. Robert Packwood, R-Ore., chairman of the Senate Finance Committee:

""What I fear is that this Trojan Horse amendment, once it is dragged into the courtyard and its belly opened, is going to be a front for every special interest group - and there are a number that are supporting it, ironically, because they regard it as the opening wedge for them to come tumbling forth out of the horse, also, and say, "Please now give us our special exemption...''

Then there was the debate over the accuracy of what the buttons said.

""I have seen people in the halls, on the floor, even the fellow running the subway to the Hart (Senate Office) Building, - they're all wearing buttons that say: "15-27-33,''' said Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J.

""That's supposed to refer to the tax rates in the bill - "15-27-33' - that's the battle cry,'' Lautenberg said. ""It's on buttons everywhere.''

""The buttons are wrong,'' Lautenberg declared. ""The buttons should read 15-27-32. Maybe 32.4, 27, and then 33 for corporations. Of course that would mean bigger buttons, or smaller print. But those are the real rates in the bill.''

If Lautenberg had his buttons, Sen. Alan Simpson, R-Wyo., had his syndrome.

Simpson said he found it fascinating that virtually every senator says the tax overhaul bill is, overall, a marvelous creation, with just an exception or two here or there.

A typical remark, said Simpson, is this one: ""I surely support it. I'm ready to get to a vote. I only want to make a few changes.''

""It is called the "Yes, but' syndrome,'' Simpson said. "Yes I like it. But I just have a clarification.'''

The debate went on to an after-midnight exchange between Simpson, the Senate Republican Whip, and Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, who used to have that job until he ran for majority leader and lost.

The subject was the legendary congressional pork barrel.

Stevens was complaining that members of the Finance Committee had ample opportunity to attach their own special interest provisions but that when other senators tried to do the same thing on the floor, they were criticized for trying to pass out favors. …

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